We live in a digital age where the art of letter writing has been virtually lost and people rarely send traditional post any more. However, stamp collecting is still an interesting hobby for millions of people across the world. Rare and unique stamps fetch hundreds or even thousands of pounds across the globe. We have created a short list of some of the most valuable stamps in the world which have become valuable because of mistakes. Here’s a whistle-stop tour of the stories behind them.
First of all, we must mention the 1864 Plate 77 Penny Red. One of these stamps sold for £550,000 at auction even though it wasn’t in very good condition. They are so rare with only 9 known copies that they fetch an incredibly high price on the market. Apparently the post office decided that that the printing plate wasn’t up to the job so they got rid of it. However, some of these stamps did manage to find their way into circulation, hence its rarity and ability to command a huge price. Stamp collectors should be careful though and not mistake the common Plate 177 for the rare Plate 77!
One of the most iconic stamp errors comes from the United States of America, namely the Inverted Jenny. This stamp is so famous that many non-philatelists have even heard of it. What makes it so rare is that there was an error during the printing process which meant that the centre of the stamp, the image of a plane, was printed upside down. This error is what makes the stamp valuable. Only a small number of stamps were sold before the authorities recalled it.
Another valuable stamp is the so-called Roses Error stamp. It was released in Great Britain in 1976 with a face value of 13p. What makes this stamp so scarce, in comparison to the millions of other versions of this stamp, which are still common today, is because the face value was omitted also due to a printing error. Today, this stamp is catalogued at £125,000 which is a huge difference!
A very controversial stamp was issued in 1968 by China. It shows a map of China which is coloured communist red but the island of Taiwan, which controlled by the Republic of China and not the People’s Republic of China (which governs mainland China), is left white to signal this political disparity. After this was discovered, the Chinese government ordered that no more of these stamps were allowed to be sold and recalled all of the unsold issues.
Keep your eyes peeled for errors in stamps; they might just be worth a fortune!